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An Entrepreneur’s Solution to the Caribbean’s PET Peeve

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Anderson Wellington of the Caribbean is visionary, an entrepreneur, and committed to leaving a healthy planet to the next generation.   He is the founder of the aptly named company, Protecting Our Universal Investment (POUI), a pioneer of waste management and recycling in his home country.  Based on the island of Trinidad and Tobago, the company specializes in the recycling of PET plastics, the most widely produced non-biodegradable material in the world.

The abbreviated company name, POUI, is also the namesake of a beautiful local flowering tree.   The poem posted on the company website has this to say about the Poui tree:

Standing tall against the northern sky
Golden highlights across the hills high
The arid blazes cannot defeat your glory
Your yellow Trumpets sound the rain story

The height, blaze, and trumpets of the Poui tree are a wonderful metaphor for the 37-year old Anderson Wellington and his company.  Whilst studying and practicing solid waste management during his university tenure, the excess plastic waste at landfills awakened Wellington to a vision of sustainability for his island and inspired a business opportunity:  “It’s at that point a lightbulb went on in my head, and the concept behind POUI was born.”  

Without other similar companies in the Caribbean, Wellington began his journey alone and stresses that the path of a typical entrepreneur is not one of glamor.  “This is not a bed of roses. Nothing about this is easy and what you put in is what you get back. It is not an 8-4 kind of job. You always have to be better than the next person.”  

The Poui Tree of the Caribbean
The Poui Tree of the Caribbean

Money as a Primary Tool to Drive Sustainability

Wellington understands that environmental issues are usually the last to be budgeted for and the first to be cut due to budget constraints. Funding has been a huge obstacle for POUI, especially given the lack of grants available for Small and Medium Entities (SMEs). This is exacerbated by the reactive nature of governments when it comes to environmental issues.  Wellington observes, “Until it is a problem large enough or you start hearing an outcry from citizens and visiting tourists, it doesn’t get attention or funding.”  

His company is trying to change this trend, encouraging the government and natives of the islands to adopt a more proactive stance to recycling. Some islands simply cannot afford the services that POUI offers. It is this need that motivates Wellington to obtain funding, and use it to help islands address their recycling and solid waste challenges.

Achieving Symbiosis

POUI is approaching the market differently from others in the industry. The company’s unique approach is built on connecting with customers and island natives, appreciating the symbiotic human relationships that are so key to success. Wellington admits that this is one of the most important facets of his business: “It is often difficult operating as an “outsider” in some of these island countries, as they prefer to do business with a local. Where necessary, I try to partner and remain in the background.”

Wellington also concedes that despite POUI’s success, help to secure grants and analyze strategy would be invaluable. Unfortunately, as with many entrepreneurs, “rules, politics and not knowing the people in the positions that can assist” present considerable obstacles to growth and contribute to loneliness for the entrepreneur.

PET plastic waste that could be recycled
Plastic PET waste in Trinidad and Tobago

Vision in the Face of Adversity

Wellington has an incredible vision for his business and the impact that POUI could have on the Caribbean.  However, he is worried that such bureaucratic impediments may prevent the business from achieving its goals.  He laments, “if I had my way the Caribbean will be in a good place based on what we can offer, however with some of the leaders and the budget constraints I don’t know what to expect. I am trying to show my 4-year-old daughter coral reefs now because the reality is in 20 years we may have to travel to another part of the world to view them at the rate they are disappearing”.   Despite these adversities, Wellington remains committed to creating a healthy planet for future generations.  We cannot solve climate change and maintain the coral reefs without leaders like him.

Being a sustainable entrepreneur is not a bed of roses, but the Poui Tree reminds us to stop and appreciate the beauty and grandeur of nature.  Similarly, Anderson Wellington’s commitment reminds us to stop and appreciate how vital sustainable entrepreneurs are to the future of the world.

Discover more about POUI Ltd at their website: http://www.poui-tt.com

Support POUI in their mission by buying their recycled clothing, hats and accessories here: https://stores.inksoft.com/poui

Henry Patten
Author: Henry Patten

Student at Culford School for A-levels before graduating to the University of North Carolina, Asheville. Double major in Economics and Management. Received a tennis scholarship at both institutions and enjoys sport above all other hobbies. Also a Management Department scholar, and recipient of the Management and Leadership award in 2018. Big South Tennis Player of the Year 2017 and 2018, including first team singles and doubles, and named to the academic team in both years. UNCA male Student-Athlete of the year 2017, 2018. Carolinas Regional Tennis Champion, Southern Intercollegiate co-champion (2017). Nationally ranked as high as #32 in singles and #1 in doubles in the Division 1 NCAA Rankings. NCAA fall national doubles champion in 2018. IBM Tennis Specialist at Wimbledon 2016 and 2017. Vice President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee at UNCA. The 2018 Wealth Management Summer Intern at Smith & Howard Wealth.

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